20 September 2016 - Denmark

States must ‘walk the talk’ – UN releases first guidelines on governments’ legal obligation to invest in children

An everyday sight that we might not reflect much on; children walking to a nearby school. A school where they learn to read and write and have time for play. If they fall sick there is a nurse who can call parents and a doctor’s appointment can be arranged. Children who have suffered abuse can turn to a counselor who knows where to refer them to receive specialized help.

At least this is how it should be. Unfortunately, many children around the world live without access to quality services such as education, healthcare and protection.

Why? Because governments are not properly investing in children.

Since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1989, all countries in the world but one have ratified the convention. But governments need to do more to put their words into action.

This is why the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is now launching a General Comment on Public Budgeting for the Realization of Children’s Rights.

It is the first UN document providing detailed guidance to states on their legal obligation to invest in children. The General Comment will also help governments deliver on commitments made to children in the Sustainable Development Goals agreed upon in September 2015.

The General Comment’s recommendations on open, inclusive and accountable resource mobilization, budget allocation and spending align with Save the Children’s call for guarantees by governments on fair finance for and accountability to the most excluded children. The General Comment makes it clear that States must not discriminate against any child through resource mobilization, budgeting and spending.

‘Spending equitably does not always mean spending the same amount on each child, but rather making spending decisions that lead to substantive equality among children.’
General Comment, paragraph 61

In order for us to truly reach every last child, States must secure resources to invest in children, including through tax. They must produce data on children to inform budget decisions, and identify allocations to children in their budgets. But most importantly, they must ensure that children can participate in budget decisions.

‘States parties should regularly hear children’s views on budget decisions that affect them […].’
‘The Committee underlines the need for States parties to budget for and provide contextually appropriate materials, mechanisms and institutions to enable meaningful participation.’
General Comment, paragraphs 52 & 54

Save the Children has supported the development of the General Comment. We have co-chaired a civil society coalition that has provided inputs to the drafting, organized regional consultations and facilitated for children to make recommendations.

The General Comment is an achievement to celebrate. It brings us one step closer to reaching every last child.

To learn more about the General Comment, please watch this short video.

‘….prioritizing children’s rights in budgets, at both national and subnational levels, as required by the Convention, contributes not only to realizing those rights, but also to long-lasting positive impacts on future economic growth, sustainable and inclusive development, and social cohesion.’
General Comment, paragraph 12

We stand side by side with children in the world's toughest places.

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